Toyota Brings Surprisingly Capable FT-4X Concept to New York International Auto Show
Crossover Features Low-Range Four-Wheel Drive and Funky Styling
Toyota brought the unusual FT-4X concept to the 2017 New York International Auto Show, giving the world a look at what a future off-roader could look like.
Although it is a unibody crossover, the Toyota FT-4X concept comes with one feature not commonly seen among the likes of the company’s own RAV4 and C-HR crosses: low-range four-wheel drive. A proper mechanical transfer case helps give the FT-4X some theoretical off-road chops, making it a spiritual successor to the likewise-compact Land Cruiser FJ40 or first-generation 4Runner. Its overall shape is squat and functional, with wheels pushed to the corners to improve approach and departure angles, as well as provide additional on-road stability. Goodyear all-terrain tires mounted on rather large 18-inch wheels look appropriately aggressive, but the thin sidewalls wouldn’t be able to handle too much abuse off-road.
Penned by artists at Calty Design Research Inc. in Newport Beach, California, the FT-4X calls attention to itself immediately, thanks to its Orange Creamsicle–ish color palette and funky, youthful styling. It calls on the company’s current X-themed styling trends as found in the Yaris hatchback and Prius hybrid, though to much better effect. The bodyside surfacing features a distinctive X motif, with the rocker panels helping define the shape. Viewed from the front, the contrast-painted fenders cut into the bumper, giving that piece an X-shape as well.
However modern the FT-4X may be, heritage styling cues abound. A large, horizontal grille with bold “TOYOTA” script dominates the front end graphic, and designers tipped their hats to the original Toyota Pickup Xtracab with the large picture window on the rear quarter. The window is a removable, interchangeable panel, allowing the driver to customize his or her car somewhat. Bulging fenders at all four corners ape the Land Cruiser FJ40.
Inside, Toyota seems to have included everything but the kitchen sink in the FT-4X. Designed for a millennial-aged urban dweller who likes to get away at a moment’s notice, the interior includes multi-use touches like removable dome lights to use as flashlights, water bottles that double as door pull handles, an audio system that removes to become a portable boom box, and a North Face sleeping back that folds up to serve as the armrest padding. Bins in the rear hatch provide both hot and cold storage, and the front dashboard’s HVAC vents are suspended on a rotating axle over a storage tray, allowing them to be used to dry gloves and gear placed therein.
Another interesting touch is the dual-action hatch, which can be opened as a single-piece liftgate or a split barn door. The cargo floor slides out, revealing a large underfloor space that could potentially be used as secure storage or a watertight cooler. The roof is reinforced for added strength when hauling, and the roof corners are armed with tie-down hooks and integrated power outlets.
At 167.3 inches long by 71.7 inches wide by 63.9 inches wide, the FT-4X concept is nearly identical in size to the C-HR, and both share the same 103.9-inch wheelbase. Toyota was mum on what powers the concept, save an acknowledgement that a four-cylinder engine would be feasible. We presume the C-HR donated its bones to the FT-4X, as the front-drive–only C-HR could be repurposed into a low-range four-wheeler pretty easily.
That said, we doubt the FT-4X concept presages a future production Toyota SUV, and we think that’s a shame. While the concept’s styling is indeed quite overwrought, its general form factor is pleasing, and we’ve been jonesing for a modern, low-priced off-roader from Toyota ever since the first-gen 4Runner (or perhaps the FJ Cruiser) went away. If you feel the same about the FT-4X, make a ruckus at Toyota’s marketing department. We’d love to see this thing on roads near Yosemite and the Adirondacks soon.